Sunday, January 29, 2012

An awesome bean soup to warm your tum this winter

So the year of paying attention to the environment is going really well.

One of my big changes is cooking ahead of time. When you're trying not to buy beans in cans (extra packaging, chemicals in the liners, transport costs) and you're trying to use more beans, you need to plan ahead! Each week, I choose a different bean to use as the base of the soups I make for our daily lunches. On Saturday night I soak the bag of beans. On Sunday, I boil them up. I usually boil them until they are almost but not quite done. This way I can finish them when they will be cooked in their final form, usually a soup or stew.

I take a few cups of the beans for whatever I am cooking for lunches, and the rest get frozen into 2 cup baggies in the freezer. This way, I'm never out of beans that will be ready in a half hour or less and I have a wide variety in the freezer to choose from. My staples are chickpeas, black turtle beans, romano beans and great white northern beans (my favourite), but I am trying to find sources of funky heirloom beans and will likely grow some of my own this summer.

Winter romano bean and pasta soup

2 large carrots
3 stalks of celery
1 yellow or red bell pepper
1 onion
2 tbps canola oil
2 cloves garlic
2 pork bones* with meat
2 bay leaves
1 tbsp of oregano
2 l chicken or veggie stock
2 cups of almost cooked romano beans
2 plum tomatoes, diced
1 cup orzo or other small pasta
2 tsp salt

Heat oil on medium-high in a large pan. Chop carrots, celery, onion and pepper into 1 cm pieces. Saute until veggies begin to caramelize around the edges. Mince garlic, add to pan. Make some space in the middle of the pan and brown the pork bones until all sides have a pleasant brown colour.

Add 1I of stock, romano beans, bay leaves and oregano. Simmer on medium, adding stock as necessary to maintain coverage of all components at all times. When the beans are tender and the soup smells enticing, add tomatoes. Take out the bones, and remove any meat. Chop, and put back into the soup. Once the soup beings to simmer again, add orzo and salt. Simmer until orzo is cooked to desired firmness.

If you are on the Weight Watchers program, the Points Plus (tm) value of 1/8 of this batch is  3 points. Not bad for a tasty, high protein, satisfying soup!

Note: You will notice that I added the tomatoes and the salt AFTER the beans were tender. If you add these before they are fully cooked, they will take longer or may not become tender at all. Always add acids and salt after cooking beans.

Serve with homemade bread and a nice glass of red wine. Delicious, healthy and easy on the environment by using beans and pork bones.

(*You could use any type of bones with meat, as a way to develop the flavor of the broth and to make use of all cuts. I get all of my meat from my friends at the Manotick Village Butcher. I am committed to buying local, ethical, healthy meat.)

Monday, January 16, 2012

iPad ate my post...Grr!

Made stock using veggies scraps stored in the freezer.
Buying bulk legumes and cooking instead of cans.
Beans in meals several times a week.
Made blueberry jam out of blueberries past their snacking prime.
Made cheese instead of throwing out milk that was left out.
Going to try to make my own tofu!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

And more ecofriendly, to keep track

1. Bought a microwave popcorn more bags.
2. Reduced drink boxes - only for outings and special occasions, not every day.
3. Switched to locally roasted beans (less travel, less waste, local).
4. Got sand instead of salt for icey steps and walkways.
5. Buying in bulk where possible (e.g. large bag o' flour).
6. Switching to lower bleach toilet paper.

Monday, January 2, 2012

List of things I've already done/planned

This is mostly as a placeholder, so that I can keep track. I'll blog about some of them later. Stay tuned...

1. Starting a Mason Bee colony.
2. Fixing the drafts around the front door and my son's bedroom window.
3. Making my own laundry detergent.
4. Cancelling any catalogues that come to my house (bye bye LL Bean).
5. Fake Christmas tree.
6. Planning a small veggie garden, and saving eggshells as starter pots.
7. Replacing household cleaners with environmentally safe ones.

One of the things I'm noticing is that most of my environmentally friendly actions are also money savers, which is not a bad thing at all.

And she's back!

Happy 2012 everyone! I hope you had a fabulous New Year, and holiday season.

Last year was awesome for my eating healthily goals...we managed to make our way through our organic fruit and veggie box every week, stuck with our no meat unless it was local and ethical (and from my friend's butcher shop, the Manotick Village Butcher), and we ate out far less. We incorporated more beans and legumes (are they the same thing?) into our diet, and stopped buying soda (for the most part).

This year I am tackling something slightly different. I have made a decision to be more environmentally conscientious this year. I've cleaned up my own toxic environment within my it's time to focus on that outside of me.

Since I find chronicling my experiences really motivating, I'll blog about it here. Perhaps you'll find something interesting that is helpful to you and the environment.

Here's to a greener 2012...(and with the green theme in mind, here is a picture of a weed from my garden last year that took serious work to remove without herbicides! Beware the very, very noxious Colt's Foot weed)